Monday Blues (04.18.11)

Chavela Vargas turned 92 yesterday. Born in Costa Rica, she migrated to Mexico at the age of 15 and, in time, became a well-regarded singer in small bars and cantinas. At the age of 32 she began her professional recording career, a career that has now spanned sixty years.

She is a powerful figure in the world of Mexican ranchera music but in many ways inhabits a symbolism far greater than just that. As transgressor of gender norms who often took to dressing like a man; to her connections to other legendary figures like José Alfredo Jiménez and Frida Khalo (she was one of the artist’s lovers); to her struggles and recoveries through bouts with alcohol; to her sexuality (she publicly confirmed her lesbianism in her 80s); and her ups and downs in her own professional career, accented with a late-in-life resurgence, she is Mexico.

She is the most fitting person to perform the first ranchera selection on “Monday Blues,” here singing “Un Mundo Raro”


I am Vito Corleone

At the end of The Godfather, an aged and somewhat frail Vito Corleone is counseling his son, Michael–the “good son” who has now become his heir in the “family business.”

I like to drink wine more than I used to…anyway, I’m drinking more…

It’s good for you, Pop.

I don’t know…your wife and children–Are you happy with them?

The older I get, this is exactly how I feel, though instead of wine you can substitute John Prine, Chavela Vargas, and Tom Waits.